The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

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Everything you need to know about this game. *SPOILER FREE*
Before we continue, I would like to clarify that, despite being pinned, this is not an official thread in any way, and is not endorsed by XSEED Games, nor do the opinions within reflect the views of XSEED Games or anyone affiliated with them. This thread is made by a fan that simply wants to inform people about the games and answer people's most frequently asked questions.

This spoiler free thread is intended for those who are new to the series and those who have never played this entry before and want to know more about it. If you find this post useful, feel free to link it if someone asks about the game. It is my hope that this will provide all the information needed for a newcomer to decide if this game is for them.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is a traditional story-based RPG made by Nihon Falcom and translated by XSEED Games. It is the 6th game in the ongoing Trails Saga and the 1st of the Cold Steel Arc. As someone who has played though this saga in the order it was localized, I’m making this thread to answer some of the questions new players may ask about the franchise as well as to inform players as to what they can expect from this entry.

I’ll start with the basics: This is a story-heavy, character-driven, turn-based party RPG. It is a slow-paced game with large amounts of text and has a strong focus on worldbuilding and storytelling.

This is a PC port done by XSEED; the games were previously released only on PS3 and PS VITA. This version will be able to run at an increased frame rate, where the console versions had noticeable slow-downs at times. This version will also have an increase of 50% extra voiced lines, taking the previously 10,000 voiced lines to 15,000! This PC version also has the 'Turbo Mode' feature, which its console counterparts are lacking.

Here is the official Trails of Cold Steel I website as created by XSEED: http://www.trailsofcoldsteel.com/cs1/

Now to answer what will most likely be the most asked questions:

Q. Is it ok to start with this game?

A. The answer is: Yes, you can start with this game even if you’ve never played a Trails game before. Trails of Cold Steel was made with the knowledge that new players may want to jump into the series with it. That being said this is the 6th game in an extremely interconnected game saga, so there will be some references to things in future games you won’t understand without playing the previous games, though, those references are kept at a minimum for this game.

Q. 6th game? Are there others? How are the games connected?

A. I’ll start at the beginning: There are 8 games in the saga as of now with more underway. The games are Trails in the Sky, Trails in the Sky Second Chapter, Trails in the Sky the 3rd, Trails to Zero, Trails to Azure, Trails of Cold Steel, Trails of Cold Steel II, and Trails of Cold Steel III, which was recently released by Falcom.

All these games take place on the same continent of Zemuria with the Trails in the Sky games taking place in one country (called Liberl), the Zero-Azure games in another (called Crossbell), and the Cold Steel games in yet another country (called Erebonia). As of now the Trails in the Sky Trilogy are the only games released on PC along with this game, although Cold Steel II will be coming to PC soon!

Q. What about the Second and Third Cold Steel games?

A. Trails of Cold Steel II has been confirmed to be coming to PC as well and is on track to release in 2018. As for the 3rd game, it was only recently released in Japan so we will have to wait awhile before we get any news regarding that one.

Q. Is it REALLY ok to play this without playing the others? Are they not that interconnected?

A. The Trails series is divided into story arcs with each ‘arc’ introducing a new country and new cast of characters. Each story arc starts out relatively self-contained, but will cross over into each other in later games in each respective arc, as they all tell one large, overarching story.

So far there are 3 arcs:
  • The ‘Liberl Arc’ or ‘Sky Arc’.

  • The ‘Crossbell Arc’ or ‘Zero-Azure Arc’.

  • And the ‘Erebonia Arc’ or ‘Cold Steel Arc’.

We also know that there is a ‘Calvard Arc’ planned.

The games all take place within a few years of each other and on the same continent. The arcs are often divided into what are known as introductory (or build-up) games and payoff games. The first game in each of the arcs (Trails in the Sky First Chapter, Trails to Zero, Trails of Cold Steel and to a degree Cold Steel II) serve to introduce the setting and the characters you will be playing with over the course of the arc. The games after, however, don’t need to introduce the characters or locations since you will be familiar with them and can tell the bulk of the story without needing to explain anything.

The first game (or games in Cold Steel’s case) in an arc are fine to start with as they introduce the story set in a particular nation, and while you will be missing out on references, it is perfectly fine to play this game and was made that way deliberately so new players have the chance to jump into the series.

Within an arc you do have to play the games in order, as in you can play Trails of Cold Steel before playing Trails in the Sky, but you can’t play Cold Steel II before playing Cold Steel, or Trails in the Sky Second Chapter before the First Chapter, or Trails to Azure before Zero, as they are all direct sequels to the game before it.

It IS worth mentioning however that latter games in an arc such as Trails to Azure and Trails of Cold Steel III (and II to a lesser extent) will expect you to have played all previous games in the saga as, for instance, characters (some even playable!) and plot points will appear from previous games and won’t be explained as the game will expect you to already have the knowledge as to who the characters are and what is going on.

There are also occasional minor spoilers in Zero, Cold Steel I, and Cold Steel II, though they are not major ones until you get to Azure and Cold Steel III (and II to a certain extent), where you will be expected to have played through all the games that were made before them.

That is only for the latter games though. This game was made by the developers to welcome new players in to the series, that way if they enjoy the game, they could always go back and play the others.

In fact, it was not only expected, but was even somewhat intended by the President of Falcom for people to start with Cold Steel, you can read about it here: a blog that was written by XSEED when Cold Steel I and II where first announced for localization. [xseedgames.tumblr.com]

The blog explains that Cold Steel is intended as a jumping in point, where people who are new to the series and who are interested in the newest game, can play through and, if they enjoyed it, can go back and play the older ones.

So in short: While it is ideal to start with Trails in the Sky, Trails of Cold Steel is a perfectly good starting point and can be played without prior knowledge from the previous games.

Though it is important to remember that playing the older games will be necessary to understanding the main plot of the series after Trails of Cold Steel II.

Q. I don’t see the Zero or Azure games on here. Are they not on PC?

A. The Zero-Azure games (often called the Crossbell games after the name of the state they take place in) have not been announced for localization yet. XSEED just recently released Trails in the Sky the 3rd this May and Trails of Cold Steel I this August and are currently working on Cold Steel II's PC port, so let’s give them time; these are very difficult games to localize after all.

Q. So it’s ok for me to start here, but what kind of game is this? What can I expect from this game?

A. This is a turn-based party RPG that has a strong emphasis on characters and story. The “About This Game” section on the Steam store page should give you a good idea of what this specific game is about.

Q. But will I like it? Is it good?

A. The game is very good! One of the best RPG franchises out there actually! But whether or not someone likes the game or not is up to personal taste. Whether you like the game or not (or the entire Trails Saga for that matter!) will depend on what you think of certain aspects of what makes this game and series what it is.

Q. Tell me: What can I expect from this game? How will I know if this is the game for me?

A. The best place to check is the reviews, but I can tell you a little about this game and series that will help you decide if this is the game for you:
  • The games have a lot of text and cutscenes and require a lot of reading as they focus on the characters and worldbuilding with something of a 50/50 or even 60/40 ratio of story and gameplay. These games definitely have a greater focus on story than on gameplay. Though that's not to say the gameplay is bad, only that the draw of these games is the story -- not the gameplay.

  • The characters come off as very trope heavy, or even one dimensional at first, but this franchise is known and praised for its characters and character development, so they should not be taken only for face value, the writing of characters and the execution of tropes are one of the things Falcom does best.

  • The pacing of the game is very slow. It takes its time to introduce the story and characters. It's not so much about the destination as it is about the journey. Those who want a short or fast-paced game with characters who are unique off the bat probably aren’t going to find that here.

  • This is also not a stand-alone game (it is the 6th game in the saga and has 2 direct sequels after all) so even after beating the game you will be left wanting for the sequel. Though if you enjoyed the game you should go back and play through the other games while waiting for the next entry. Future games in this series will rely on knowledge from the previous games.

  • The game’s setting is that of a military school in the Erebonian Empire that is divided between the noble and commoner classes. This game follows the new students at the academy as they learn just how fierce that divide can be as they see for themselves the conflicts that arise in the nation. All the while getting caught up in the tumultuous times the empire is going through.

  • The game follows a very rigid structure in that you are allowed access only to one area at a time and cannot return to towns once you leave (with the academy and the starting town being the exception as you return there often), nor can you leave until you progress the plot (though you are warned before progressing the story when you won’t be able to return). While this sounds like a very linear progression system, you are given a lot of freedom within each region which allows you to explore outside of towns for treasure and to complete quests, and you can find hidden quests in each town by talking to NPCs.

  • One of the things this franchise is most known for is its constantly updating NPC text, which changes after every major plot advancement. All the NPCs (with a few exceptions) have names and stories going on throughout the whole game that you can choose to follow.

  • The series is not for everyone as it is a very slow paced game that gradually picks up pace as it goes on and with a greater focus on worldbuilding and story rather than gameplay. What this saga is known for is its unparalleled world-building, story, writing, and characters, not to mention the music, which is one of Falcom’s specialties.

So if a well-written, story-heavy, character-driven RPG is what you’re after, and you don’t mind a slow-burn, then this is probably the game for you.

Q. So what’s the battle system like? Is it turn-based? Are there any side-quests? Tell me all about the gameplay.

A. This will be a long answer! The game has a turn-based battle system where you control a party of 4 characters during battle. One of the things this game allows you to do is switch out party members mid-battle with any character you have in reserve. Your party members are mostly determined by where you are in the game (there are a few times in the game where you can select your party members), and while you usually do not get to pick who is in your party, you can choose who is in your active party and who is in the reserve. Whose turn it is can be seen in an AT bar on the left side of the screen. Every action you take will cause a certain amount of delay before you will be given another turn and characters that have a higher speed stat will get their turn faster than others.

Note: For the purpose of this explanation I will be using the in-game terms "delay", "stats", "orbal", “sepith”, "status ailments", and the terms "EP" and "CP", but don't worry, I will explain what all those terms mean later.

Battles are started by running into monsters on the map, there are advantages you can get based on how you initiate the battle such as running into the enemy from behind will give you a better advantage than if you had engaged him from the front. The same applies if you are attacked from behind by an enemy; you will be at a disadvantage. You can switch which character leads the party out of your current party members. Each character has a different weapon type and is more specialized towards attacking one specific monster type than another. If you attack a monster with the weapon it is weak against it will be easier to initiate battle advantages against them. Once you initiate the battle, you will be taken to the battle screen you can see in the screenshots on the Steam store page.

Your options in battle are thus: Attack, Move, Arts, Crafts, Item, and Run. What each of these does will be explained during the prologue in the in-game tutorial, but in short:

  • Attack: When you choose to attack, your selected character will automatically move as close into weapon range (if they are not already in range of your targeted enemy) as they need to be and, depending on your selected character, proceed to deal either physical or orbal damage against them.

  • Move: Move is a strategic option that will allow you to move out of the range of enemy attacks or move in range of friendly arts and crafts. You cannot move and then immediately select another battle option. Move will count as one turn; however, it will only cause a small amount of delay before your next turn and thus can be used to 'waste' a turn in order to manipulate the battle order to steal turn bonuses (turn bonuses will be explained later).

  • Arts: Orbal Arts are basically this franchise's equivalent of magic spells. They cost EP to use and require time in order to cast. There are a variety of spells that can be divided into two groups: offensive and support. Offensive arts are those that can deal damage to an opponent or cause them negative status ailments, while support arts can heal an ally or buff them by raising their stats. Which orbal arts you have access to are dependent on your orbment setup. I will explain what this is in a short while.

  • Crafts: Next we have crafts, which are character exclusive skills that are unique to each individual. These moves costs CP and usually cause longer delay, but unlike arts, are used immediately, for they require no casting time. Crafts may do anything from dealing extra damage and causing nasty status ailments to healing and buffing your allies. There are various crafts that can do some very unique things as well.

    There is a very powerful craft you can only use once a character reaches 100 CP. This crafts is called an S-Craft. S-Crafts are usually offensive (although sometimes an S-Craft can be supportive) and can deal massive damage to opponents at the cost of all your CP and a large delay. A 200 CP S-Craft (which is the max CP you can get) typically doubles the usefulness of the S-Crafts, so you can choose between using them at specific moments or saving up for double the effectiveness!

    One of the best things about S-Crafts is that you can trigger them even when it is not your turn. When you trigger an S-craft outside of your turn, it is called an S-Break. S-Breaks have a longer delay than when you manually select the S-Craft option on your turn, but allow you to get off a move right after you take your turn. They will also allow you to steal turn bonuses in the turn order. I'll give a brief explanation on turn bonuses after going over the last two battle options.

  • Items: This option allows you to use items in battle. Your items range from healing capsules and consumable food items that can both heal and buff you, to not-so-consumable food items that can cause status-inflicting damage to enemies and valuable CP restoring items. The best thing about items is that they can be used instantaneously so you can rely on them in a pinch!

  • Run: This option allows you to run away from battles. Unlike in the Sky Arc where you have a 100% chance to flee from enemies, when choosing to run in the Cold Steel games you have a set percentage chance to successfully flee from encounters. Every time you fail to flee from an enemy your chances will increases for your next attempt, which should continue rising until you are guaranteed a successful flee. The normal chance to flee percentage is 70%. If you initiated the encounter with an advantage you should have a 100% chance to flee, while if you were caught at a disadvantage you will start with only a 30% chance to flee.

Hmm, that ended up not being as short as I was intending it to be, ha ha. Now to explain what some of those battle-related terms mean.

We'll start with turn bonuses. Simply put: Turn bonuses are the small icons that appear adjacent to the AT bar on the left side of the screen that displays the turn order. When a character or enemy gets their turn, if it is accompanied with a turn bonus, they will have a special bonus given to them, either good or bad. These can range from restoring a percentage of one's HP, or EP, or CP, to draining all of your remaining CP, to granting the ability to instantly kill an opponent. It is a good idea to plan your turns appropriately and to manage your delay properly.

Every action your character or an enemy takes inflicts a certain amount of delay on them. How soon you get your next turn depends on how long of a delay your last turn caused. How long your next turn is delayed depends on what you do ding your turn, however, there is a way to reduce how high your delay is. And that is by having a high speed stat.

The stats in this game are the standard fare that is similarly used in most other RPGs. The stats are STR, DEF, ATS, ADF, SPD, DEX, AGL, MOV, and RNG (which doesn’t stand for Random Number Generator -- but for range!). Strength and Defense determine how much damage you give and take respectively. Arts and Art Defense determine art efficiency and defense respectively. Dexterity and Agility affect you hit accuracy and dodging ability, while Speed determines how low your delay is thus increasing the speed at which you get your turns. Lastly we have Movement and Range, with Movement determining how far you can travel on the battle map and Range showing how close you must get to an ally or enemy in order to perform an action on them. Different characters will have different attack range due to having different weapons.

There are 3 other stats that need to be mentioned. These are HP, EP, and CP. HP obviously stands for Health Points, and when depleted to 0 causes your character to die. EP stands for Energy Points and is used each time you cast an art. If you do not have the necessary EP for the art you wish to cast, then you will be unable to use it until you restore your EP. You can get EP by using EP-replenishing items or crafts. CP stands for Craft Points, every time you use a craft, you use up CP. CP is restored by getting attacked or by attacking enemies. You can also get CP by various other means, such as using certain CP-replenishing items.

During a battle, you may find yourself afflicted by status ailments. Status ailments put characters in a crippling state. Some of the ailments you might be afflicted by can cause you to attack your own enemies, or be unable to use arts, or be able to use attacks and crafts, while some others may decrease your accuracy causing your character to miss, or cause your character to take damage each turn. Most of these status ailments will disappear after a set number of turns, but you can also cure them by using an art or item that can heal the ailment you are affected by. Every enemy has a set resistance to each ailment, so if you are going to try inflicted status ailments on an enemy, it is best to use one that they have an overwhelming weakness to, rather than one that they are resistant to. In order to cause status ailments, you will need to use an art or craft that is described as having a chance at causing a specific ailment. One other way to cause status affects is to have certain quartz placed in your orbment that presents a chance for all your attacks and crafts to cause these ailments.

A quartz is an orb that offers many different effects. Some quartz may raise your stats, while others may give you a chance to inflict status ailments. But the thing that quartz is most known for is its ability to cause an orbal art. Which orbal arts a character has access to in battle is decided by which quartz they have equipped. There are quartz that can deal damage based on the 4 'main' elements: Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind. There are also 3 'higher' elements: Time, Space, and Mirage. Certain enemies may either be weak to or strong against these seven elements. An orbal art may do more than just cause elemental damage; they may also cause status ailments against enemies. Arts are not limited to only offensive capabilities; certain arts may heal you or buff your allies.

There are also Master Quartz, which you get only one each of. A Master Quartz provides specialized effects as well as giving you a stat boost as well as some arts. Master Quartz level up with the amount of experience you get, and when it levels up it provides you with better effects, stats, and arts.

You can get regular quartz by spending sepith (which are a type of gem you get from defeating monsters) at orbal factories in the game. There are also sepith masses that enemies can drop, which have only one purpose: to trade in for money. You can also trade in regular sepith but it is better to save them up for buying quartz and unlocking orbment slots.

An orbment is anything that is orbal powered, with orbal power being the primary energy source used in modern-day Zemuria (Zemuria is the continent all the Trails games take place in). A tactical battle orbment is what you place quartz in to allow you reap their benefits. You have a limited amount of slots you can place quartz in, and most of them are locked at the start. You need to spend sepith in order to unlock these slots. Some slots are locked to certain elements, meaning you can only place a quartz of one specific element in them.

Now back to some battle mechanics! The battles are faster paced than the previous Trails in the Sky games with the inclusion of arts and crafts skipping. The S-craft/break skipping mechanic from those games is present in this one, too.

One particular thing this saga is known for is its experience-scaling, which is where lower leveled characters will receive more experience if they are under-leveled for where they are in the story, and over-leveled characters receive less, meaning the need to grind for levels is kept at a minimum. The Cold Steel games have experience multipliers, meaning the better feats you perform in battle, the more experience you get. If you are having trouble in fights, it is more important to make sure your gear is up to par and your orbments properly set up than it is to simply level grind, as it is easy for your characters' levels to reach any height the story might expect them to be at.

One of the battle mechanics that was introduced in the Cold Steel games that was not in any of the previous games is Character Linking. During a battle you can have 2 characters linked to one another. When two characters are linked they may do a variety of things depending on their Link Level. With a higher Link Level, certain characters may cover the one they are linked to when they are attacked, or heal them after they are attacked by an enemy, or even boost the damage of their arts during casting. There are a few minor ways to raise your Link Level, but the best way, by far, is to view Bonding Events, which I will explain shortly.

The most prominent benefit of character linking is Link Attacks. When you attack an enemy you may see a prompt for you to press a button to do a Follow Up Attack. This allows you to get in an extra attack via another character supporting you through character linking. Each time you successfully do this you earn a Brave Point, and at later portions of the game you will be able to spend those Brave Points in battle on team attacks that use your characters to deal wide-spread damage to whatever enemies you are facing.

Link Attacks only occur when you unbalance an enemy. You have a chance to unbalance an enemy every time you attack them with a weapon they are weak to. Each character has a different weapon, and these weapons all have certain attack types. These attack types are strong against certain types of enemies and weak to others. Every character has a certain efficiency to their attacks and every enemy has a different resistance to each attack. If an enemy that is easily unbalanced by a certain attack type is attack with a weapon that specializes in that attack type, that enemy will be unbalanced and you will be able to perform a Link Attack.

Now to go over some non-battle related mechanics. Your party leader will be the only one who appears when traversing the world, even if you have multiple people in your party. Over the course of the game you will be able to walk around and talk to NPCs and your party members who aren't in your party. And during certain parts of the game you will be given Bonding Points. These points are used when you spend time with your characters on Free Days.

A Free Day is a specific day on the school campus where you can do some side-quests, talk to NPCs, and bond with your classmates. Bonding Events can be viewed only on one these Free Days and cost one Bonding Point for each scene you choose to view.

Bonding Points are limited so you must choose whose you wish to view. They are only limited on your first playthrough of the game. On a New Game Plus, you can choose to have unlimited Bonding Points, so you can view them all then. If you download a Clear Save file from someone who uploaded their Clear Save from beating the game, you will be able to have unlimited Bonding Points for your first playthrough.

Once you beat the game you will be asked to create a Clear Save file. When you load up the Clear Save you will be able to start a New Game Plus playthrough. Before starting a NG+ you will be given a certain amount of Carry-Over Points you can spend on the thing you want to carry over for your next playthrough. You also have the option to select special bonuses, such as secret costumes and the unlimited bonding points. The more times you beat the game the more Carry-Over Points you get. Once you beat the game enough times you will be able to carry over everything and get all the bonuses at the same time. A Clear Save can also be carried over to the sequel, Trails of Cold Steel II, where doing certain side-quests may cause certain NPCs to remember you. And depending on what your level was when you beat the game, you may net some extra items at the start of the next game.

If you want to see all the bonding events on your first playthrough, Craig79 graciously provided a save file for people to start on NG+. You can find the file in the thread he made here: http://steamcommunity.com/app/538680/discussions/0/1471967615839359790/

The last thing I will cover regarding gameplay is the side-quests. Some side-quests are mandatory while most are optional. Both mandatory and optional side-quests are indicated by Quest Markers on the map. Side-quests are a very integral and necessary part of these games plot. They help you to learn about each place you visit and allow you to gain an understanding of how Erebonia works. The side-quests in-game provide more than just the usual perks, they reward you with more lore and a deeper understanding of the world.

There are a variety of mini-games and side content in this game. One of them is a fishing mini-game, where when you catch a fish it may give up items, accessories, and sepith along with giving you the opportunity to earn numerous other rewards. Another mini-game is Blade, which is a card game. You can only play Blade at certain times during the game, but they reward you by increasing your bonding level with the person you played with.

Two other manners of side content in this game are the collecting and filling up of your Recipe Book and Character Notes. Over the course of the game you can fill these up by doing varying things, and if you completely fill them up you may get awarded for it. Getting new recipes will also allow you to cook food which can then be used as items. There is also a Monster Guide you can fill up and, similar to the Recipe Book and Character Notes, may award you for it.

A lot of the side content in these games is just simply talking to NPCs and following their stories. Some of them will have hidden quests which aren't marked on the map and you can only do for a limited time, and some will perhaps provide you with a new issue in one of the games collectible book series, or maybe they will simply provide humorous comments on whatever situation you may find them in. The NPC stories continue throughout the game, and some of the other members of the academy even have relatives in other towns you can find!

Phew! That was definitely the longest answer. On to the next question!

Q. How’s the game’s difficulty?

A. This game is not very difficult on the average, though there are a few challenging boss fights. The game offers 4 difficulty modes: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Nightmare. Easy is for those who don’t want any challenges and just want to enjoy the game for the story, Normal is for the average gamer who wants a casual playthrough without having to worry about getting stuck on a boss fight for too long, Hard is for those who are used to the genre and find normal too easy for them, Nightmare is for those who want a challenge, there will definitely be some tough fights in-store for you here.

The Cold Steel series is overall easier than previous games in the saga due to providing more ways to overpower your enemies. The Trails in the Sky games, in particular, never had balanced difficulty modes making for some tougher battles in those games.

One last thing to remember about these games is that the experience scaling means you should always be around the expected level for wherever you are in the story, making sure you are not under-geared will make a more noticeable difference than just level grinding.

Q. Does this game have controller support? Will we be able to rebind the mouse and keyboard controls? Can I play the game though the game with just the mouse like in the previous games?

A. This game provides full controller support. The mouse and keyboard controls will be fully customizable.

Unlike in the Sky Arc, you will not be able to play through the game with only a mouse; you will need to use a keyboard with it in cases such as navigating the menu. Here is a quote by Durante (the man who is most responsible for the work on this port): "The menus are only usable with the keyboard (well, you can assign mouse buttons too of course, the point is that you can't point using the cursor). There's just too many menus and too much code not at all built for pointing devices involved to change that with a viable amount of effort."

Q. Does this game have censorship?

A. This game is not censored at all. There is simply nothing in this game that would even need censoring, anyway, as it is a very “T” rated game.

Q. This game is rated "T", right? What kind of content is in this game? Is it appropriate for children or teens?

A. This game was indeed rated "T" by the ESRB. You can read their summary of the content contributing to the rating here: Trails of Cold Steel's ESRB Rating Summary[esrb.org]

As a side note: PC games do not need to be rated by the ESRB so the summary was made for the PS3 and PS VITA versions of the game. That being said, the summary is still accurate for the PC version, as the PC version did not add any new content that would affect the rating in any way.

As for the last question: If you are a parent, I would not presume to know whether or not you should allow your child to play this game. But I would have to agree with the ESRB's "T" rating of this game and would not personally recommend this game to anyone that is not a teenager.

Q. How is the music?

A. The music is, simply put, amazing! The Falcom Sound Team JDK are known for their fantastic music, and for those who are familiar with their work: this game won’t let you down! Whether it’s the calm town themes or the ominous and foreboding tracks that are playing or even the boss themes, Falcom, as always, composed a masterpiece of a score.

That being said, be very careful if you look up the music for the first CS and don't look up the music for CS II at all before beating the first Cold Steel as there are big spoilers on the cover art of CS II's OST album. If you listen to the soundtracks on YouTube, be wary of the comment section, as there may be spoilery discussions being had there.

Q. How is the graphical quality?

A. Falcom is a very small company (they only have around 40-50 employees) with a much smaller budget than most other game companies. The company has always prioritized good story and good gameplay over up-to-date graphics so their games usually look a console generation behind what they originally release on.

That’s not to say their games have poor graphics, all of Falcom’s games have lots of care put into every detail of the graphics which gives their games a unique charm. And while this is their first Trails game in 3D, they always improve over time, what with the sequel having improved animations and their more recent games looking beautiful.

Q. What is the port quality like?

A. This is a fantastic port! XSEED has contracted Peter Thoman, better known as Durante, to handle this port. If you don't know who Durante is: Peter "Durante" Thoman is infamous for taking PC ports that are of a low or average quality and improving them substantially. He is best known for essentially 'fixing' the Dark Souls PC port.

XSEED hired him to do this port and he began his work on it this May. In his own words he stated: "In all seriousness, I fully intend for it to be the best PC port of a JRPG of all time."

You can read 3 of his official blogs regarding his work on the games-

- here[xseedgames.tumblr.com] (his first Cold Steel blog) and here[xseedgames.tumblr.com] (his second Cold Steel blog) and here.[xseedgames.tumblr.com]

In short, a few of the things this port provides are: A feature-rich launcher that provides a clear and concise explanation of what every tweakable feature does, 400 save slots laid out in a grid pattern, four options related to the quality of dynamic shadows including: shadow resolution, casting, distance, and filtering, the game's setting also fully support 30 FPS and 60 FPS and there is an option for unlimited FPS, Adjustable Field of View (FOV), anti-aliasing options affect everything, unlimited draw distance, which completely eliminates any form of pop-in, and only 2 second long loading times--at most! This port also introduced Turbo Mode to the series, which gives the option to speed up portions of the game to your liking.

Q. Will this version of the game feature Cross Save functionality? Can I use my saves from my PS3/PS VITA playthrough?

A. Unfortunately not. The PC version of this game does not feature Cross Save compatibility with the PS3 or PS VITA versions. That being said, Craig79 has a save file for people to start on NG+ with, so you don't necessarily have to start with just a New Game playthrough. You can find the file in the thread he made here: http://steamcommunity.com/app/538680/discussions/0/1471967615839359790/

Q. Which language does the game come in?

A. This game comes with English audio and has the option for both English and Japanese text.

Q. Does the game come with Japanese audio? And what about the Japanese text?

A. It does not. XSEED has stated that they were not allowed to use the Japanese voices. They were, however, able to get the Japanese text, which means that, for this game, you can choose between having English or Japanese text.

Q. Is the English voice acting good? What about the translation?

A. The English voice acting is very good. The casting was very well done as the voices fit each character perfectly. Each character is voiced naturally, making the characters seem alive. And the voice acting only improves throughout the game and even into its sequel, where the voice acting reaches fantastic heights. The only flaw that I noticed regarding the game's voice over is that sometimes characters can be closer to the microphone than others in the same scene which may cause some characters voices to seem louder than others and some characters may also seem to get quieter as they speak.

As for the translation: XSEED Games is known for doing a great job of localizing games and this game is no exception! As with the previous Trails games, the phenomenal writing quality of Falcom and the great localization by XSEED bring the characters to life. The writing of the game flows naturally and is brimming with humor and life and the translation absolutely conveys that (and even adds to it in some cases).

Q. So I’m interested in the game but where can I buy it?

A. The game is available to purchase on Steam, GOG, and Humble Bundle. It was also released previously on PS3, PS VITA, and is compatible with PS TV, but only the PC release has the 5,000 extra voiced lines, improved graphical quality, and Turbo Mode.

Q. Is there any DLC for this game?

A. The console release of the game had mostly cosmetic DLC; there is no story or essential DLC for the game. The costume DLC is purchasable through Steam. You can also click this link:
http://store.steampowered.com/bundle/3936/The_Legend_of_Heroes_Trails_of_Cold_Steel__Class_VII_Casuals_Set/ (Note: It may not work in all regions)
to purchase them all at a bundled discount. The other cosmetic DLC (ARCUS covers and cosmetic accessories) are included in the base game. There are also three Trial Packs and one Pom Bait Trial Pack included in the base game.

To redeem the in-game DLC, go to the DLC tab in the Camp Menu and select the ones you wish to use. Every time you start a New Game or New Game Plus, you can redeem them again. In other words: You can redeem them on each and every one of your playthroughs, even if you already redeemed them on your previous playthrough.

Q. Is there any supplementary material for this game? Any manga, drama CDs, etc. I can read or listen to?

A. Yes there are, actually. There is a manga that provides some extra backstory and a Drama CD that is directly connected to the main story.

First I’ll talk about the Drama CD: The Drama CD is called ‘Returning Home’ and takes place after the beginning of the Final Chapter of Cold Steel. It should not be read until you have reached that point in the game.

The story of this CD was originally intended to be a part of the game, but had to be cut (you should read it shortly after reaching the Final Chapter of this game, but it is obvious where the cut was made).

That particular part of the story was cut due to time restraints, but it was important enough for them to want to include it into the story in some way, thus the Drama CD. The events of the Drama CD are referenced in Cold Steel II so it is worth a read through.

XSEED, deeming it important enough to buy and translate the scripts of, have provided an official translation of the 2 Drama CDs for the Cold Steel games (There is one Drama CD for Cold Steel, and another for Cold Steel II) on their Cold Steel II website for free for anyone to read. The site itself (excluding the CS II Drama CD) doesn't contain any important spoilers for CS II if you've already seen the trailer, however some people like going in completely blind without seeing anything about the game or even watching the trailer. The link I've provided below links straight to the first Drama CD. As long as you don't browse the site you are in no danger of being spoiled.

Here is the link to the first Drama CD, ‘Returning Home’: http://www.trailsofcoldsteel.com/cs2/memoirs1.html

Make sure you don't read the translation for the first Drama CD if you haven’t gotten to the Final Chapter of CS I, yet. And make sure you don’t read the second Drama CD until you've played CS II.

And for anyone reading this who hasn't beaten this game, yet: make sure you don't browse the site until you do if you don't want to be spoiled.

Now as for the manga: There is a manga called 'Ring of Judgment' that takes place either during or after Trails in the Sky the 3rd and serves as a kind of prequel to Zero, although it also has to do with Erebonia as well. It's also the first time we get to see the character Toval, who appears in Cold Steel I and II.

It was translated by Omgfloofy and proofread by Gu4n and Yotaka. I asked her for permission to provide a link to her site (Endless History) with the download on it, and she was kind enough to allow it! Obviously you should play through the entire Sky Arc before reading it, but here it is for anyone who wants to: https://www.esterior.net/2016/08/translation-wednesday-bonus-ring-of-judgment-complete-download/

That is the link to the page with the completed manga for download. This link will take you to the Prologue of it that also holds a description of the manga as well as links to the other Chapters, should you choose to download them one at a time, rather than all at once: https://www.esterior.net/2016/01/translation-tuesday-the-legend-of-heroes-zero-no-kiseki-pre-story-the-ring-of-judgment-prologue/

Also from the site: "Though it may be straight forward for most, please remember that this is a Japanese manga and it hasn’t been flipped. As a result, remember to read from right to left!"

If the download links don't work or if there is something wrong with them on the site's side of things, make sure to let Floofy know.

Q. So what if I played the first Trails in the Sky game and didn’t like it?

A. This game is very similar to the first Sky game in that it is slow-paced and is very wordy. It does feature some quality-of-life features, however, in that you can often fast travel inside of towns. The battles are also faster-paced as they allow for arts (which are essentially your spells) and crafts (essentially your skills) skipping, which means you can skip the (sometimes lengthy) animations during battle. So it’s very possible you may find this game easier to get into and that after beating it you may find it easier to go back to the older games to experience their story, but there are no sweeping changes in this game compared to previous ones aside from the increase in voice acting and the jump to 3D which only affect the presentation.

Q. I’m not new to the franchise, but I haven’t had the chance to play this entry until now. I played and enjoyed the previous games, but how is this one? Should I play it? How does it compare to the other games? Is it just as good?

A. If you played and enjoyed the previous games you should absolutely play this game. If you played the second and especially the third game in the saga you would know that there are a lot of places in Zemuria that you haven’t visited yet and a lot of questions you may have still need answering. While the Sky Arc took place in Liberl, the Cold Steel Arc take place about 2 years later in the Erebonia Empire which was mentioned quite often in the previous games!

This game is of the same quality as previous entries, but it is worth remembering that this game is meant to introduce a new story with a new cast and it’s best to compare it to only the first Sky game rather than the whole of the Sky Trilogy as the Sky Trilogy is a fully finished arc and this is only the first game in a new arc (this arc isn’t even finished yet at the time of writing!). So don’t go expecting every character to be fully fleshed out immediately and every question to be answered, you will need to be introduce to the characters and setting first before the plot picks up similar to Sky FC (First Chapter).

Q. Where's the best place to get news on the franchise? And how will I know when more games come out?

A. The best place for news regarding The Legend of Heroes, Trails, and all other Falcom games is Endless History[www.esterior.net]. Endless History was created, is owned, and primarily handled by Omgfloofy. Endless History is a site dedicated to Falcom and has all the latest news, reliable sources, and even translated interviews! You can also follow Endless History and even Nihon Falcom themselves directly on Twitter. Here is Endless History's Twitter and Nihon Falcom's Twitter (It's important to note that Falcom will often promote their most recently released and upcoming games, meaning they might post pictures that can spoil you on previous games in the franchise).

One of the other places to watch for Trails related news is all Social Media run by XSEED Games. That currently includes their Twitter and Facebook Page. They even have a page dedicated soley to The Legend of Heroes: Trails Series.

Q. If someone has a question about the game that's answered in this thread, can I copy portions of this thread to show them?

A. Of course! Anyone and everyone is free to use portions of this post as they see fit. If you wanted to copy and paste this entire post and post it elsewhere, you are fully free to do so. You do not even have to credit me. I made this thread for the purpose of helping people to learn about this franchise. As long as it helps, that's good enough for me!

Well, with that, I think that's all of the questions and answers that I can think of.

There are still some additional notes, credits, and some closing words that may interest you below, but let me take the time to say this now: If you are reading this, then allow me to thank you! It is my hope that this thread will inform others about these amazing games!

Whether you read this whole post or just skimmed through it, I hope this thread proved helpful to you in some way.

Additional Notes:

As an added note for those interested: the Japanese release order of the games so far is: Sky FC 2004, Sky SC 2006, Sky the Third 2007, Zero 2010, Azure 2011, CS I 2013, CS II 2014, CS III 2017 (released this year).

The English release order so far has been: Sky FC 2011, Sky SC 2015, CS I 2015, CS II 2016, Sky the Third 2017.

The timeline of the games so far are: Sky FC with Sky SC taking place mere hours after the first game, Sky 3rd takes place a few months after SC, Zero takes place a few months after 3rd, Cold Steel starts during Zero and the 2 games happen at the same time but in different countries, Azure starts after Zero but also runs concurrently with CS I, CS I ends during Azure, CS II starts during Azure and ends after, Cold Steel III is set a year and a half after CS II.

If you are wondering whether it is okay to play the Cold Steel games before the Crossbell games since the games take place at the same time: You can play Cold Steel I and II before the other games and it will not ruin the experience of the Crossbell games. But it bears saying that the games do overlap each other at points where an event will happen in one country and will be talked about in the other, this is one of the things the saga is most known for and does best: creating an over-arching story taking place in a living, breathing world.

As for whether or not you will be spoiled on events in one game by playing another first, the games keep the details about what is happening in other countries to a minimum and is told in such a way that the characters of one arc are just as curious about what’s going on as you are. It is told in a way that whichever arc you play first will give you a different perspective on the events of the other games, so while it will be a different experience to play Zero/Azure after CS I/CS II then if you had played Zero/Azure before CS I/CS II, it is not a worse experience.

As stated earlier, it was not only expected, but was even somewhat intended by the President of Falcom for people to start with Cold Steel, here is XSEED's blog post about it: the blog that was written by XSEED when Cold Steel I and II where first announced for localization. [xseedgames.tumblr.com]

The exceptions being Trails to Azure and Trails of Cold Steel III, neither of which have been localized at the time of writing, which will expect you to have played all the games that preceded that entry and, in Cold Steel III's case, will contain spoilers for those past games.

Credits:

Thanks to Durante for pinning this thread so others can get some use out of it and for your amazing work on this port. Special Thanks to Omgfloofy for bringing the ‘Ring of Judgment’ manga to the English speaking Trails communities through your site, Endless History, and for all your translation efforts. And Thanks to Gu4n, Yotaka, and Endless History as a whole, for the help they provided in making this manga available to be read. And Thanks to Craig79 for providing a Clear Save of the game and making it available for others to use.

And of course, the highest thanks to Nihon Falcom and XSEED Games for the creation and localization of this amazing franchise. Please continue providing us with an enjoyment only you can bring.

All of you have this fan’s most heartfelt thanks. <3

Closing Words:

Nihon Falcom has been around since 1981 and has made some of the best RPGs out there. Whether you’re a Falcom newcomer or a longtime fan, I hope you will enjoy this game as much as I do!

Apologies for any formatting errors this is my first time making a discussion thread. If any new information comes out I will try to update the info in my post, also if there is any inaccurate info or info I may have left out, please feel free to let me know in the comments. And if you have any questions about the game that I didn’t answer feel free to ask them in the comments. I will do my best to answer any that I can, and I’m sure others will be able to help you out, too. And for those who comment: remember to be polite in your discussions and no name-calling! Let’s make sure we can be there to help anyone who needs it. :)

Happy gaming all!
Last edited by Cold_Steel_III; 20 hours ago
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Showing 1-15 of 180 comments
You might want to change the controller support. The Store pages says that it provides full controller support.
DUDE!!.... *thumbs up
Also I think you don't need to grind a lot unless you're in a higher difficulty or maybe gunning for an achievement....
Originally posted by gstommylee001:
You might want to change the controller support. The Store pages says that it provides full controller support.
Thank you! I added that to my post.
Originally posted by Blahto Blahtoto:
DUDE!!.... *thumbs up
Also I think you don't need to grind a lot unless you're in a higher difficulty or maybe gunning for an achievement....
Thank you for the suggestion! I added a new section about the gameplay, battle system, and side-quests.
Keio Jul 1 @ 12:52am 
Great post. This needs to be pinned.
Originally posted by Keio:
Great post. This needs to be pinned.
Thank you for the kind words, it's my hope that this will help to answer most of the questions anyone might have regarding the game. Is there an official way for me to request a sticky? (This is my first time making a discussion thread)
Erpy Jul 1 @ 3:24am 
Great post.
Originally posted by Erpy:
Great post.
Thanks! I hope it was helpful.
Erpy Jul 1 @ 3:36am 
I already played both games multiple times, but I'm sure it'll be helpful for people new to the Erebonia arc.
Sorry, I think I worded that wrong, I know you've played the games, I just mean I hope the post ends up being helpful to people in general.
Last edited by Cold_Steel_III; Jul 1 @ 4:34pm
Wonderful post .
Originally posted by King_James_Bible:
Wonderful post .
Well, thank you!
Last edited by Cold_Steel_III; Jul 1 @ 1:45pm
Keio Jul 3 @ 12:40am 
Originally posted by Cold_Steel:
Originally posted by Keio:
Great post. This needs to be pinned.
Thank you for the kind words, it's my hope that this will help to answer most of the questions anyone might have regarding the game. Is there an official way for me to request a sticky? (This is my first time making a discussion thread)
I don't know how to make an official request either. Hopefully the forum mods will consider pinning it. Really good job on making the explanation for the Build-up Game and the Payoff Game btw. I feel like that is an important piece of information for people new to a Trails game so they know what to expect for the plot structure.
Originally posted by Keio:
Originally posted by Cold_Steel:
Thank you for the kind words, it's my hope that this will help to answer most of the questions anyone might have regarding the game. Is there an official way for me to request a sticky? (This is my first time making a discussion thread)
I don't know how to make an official request either. Hopefully the forum mods will consider pinning it. Really good job on making the explanation for the Build-up Game and the Payoff Game btw. I feel like that is an important piece of information for people new to a Trails game so they know what to expect for the plot structure.

Thanks, and yeah I agree. Falcom usually follows a 'build-up game -> pay-off' game structure for Trails games. They did it with FC -> SC, with FC being mostly build-up and SC being mostly payoff and I know they did the same thing with with Zero -> Azure (Though I haven't played them, yet, since I only know English).

Trails in the Sky the 3rd and the Cold Steel games kinda follow a different structure than previous entries. With the 3rd being somewhat of an Epilogue for SC, wrapping up some of it's loose ends, while also serving as a Prologue which sets up the rest of the series. It also serves to introduce a lot of plot points to be resolved in other games and a lot of lore which doesn't get explained in future games.

And while CS1 is definately a build-up game, CS2 kind of does both: answering some of the questions CS1 leaves you, while also introducing even more questions for CS3 to answer. It can be said that CS1 and 2 are kinda like one giant build-game for CS3 (which looks to be more of a pay-off game).

EDIT: I actually made a similar post recently regarding CS2. I'll just copy and paste my reply here:

"CS1 and 2 are kinda like one giant build up game with CS3 looking like it's gonna be the payoff one. CS2 is one of my favorite games in the series (I've only played the English games, I haven't played Crossbell.), but you may end up being dissapointed if you expect the game to majorly advance the plot like SC does. Think of it kind of like Sky the 3rd, where it answers things from the previous games, but builds up more things for future games. That's not to say it doesn't offer payoff. CS2 offers payoff (and has a couple of the most epic scenes in the series) for CS1 but also builds up to CS3 I think is the best way to put it.

So yeah it's a fantastic game, I just think people should know what to expect going into it, like you wouldn't want to go into Sky the 3rd thinking it's gonna be like SC. Not trying to dampen your excitement (as I said CS2 is one of my favorites), I just don't want anyone to be dissapointed by thinking it's going to answer all your questions or majorly advance the plot like SC did. "
Last edited by Cold_Steel_III; Jul 3 @ 2:02am
how do i request sticky?
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